Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shuster offers amendment to Stimulus Bill

Today, Congressman Shuster offered an amendment to protect transportation funding in the stimulus bill being debated in the House.  During amendment debate, Shuster made the following remarks on the House Floor:

Representative Bill Shuster

January 28, 2009

Mr. Speaker,

My amendment is straightforward.  It simply ensures that states do not use federal funding provided in this bill to reduce state dollars that were already committed to projects.    

At the end of the day our goal is to have a net increase in total spending -- from all levels of government -- on infrastructure.  It does not make sense for us to provide additional federal transportation dollars if the States are going to turn around and cut their State transportation budgets. 

Under my amendment, if a State were to use stimulus funds to replace State funds that were already committed to a project, the appropriate federal agency would be empowered to re-capture those funds.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America’s Infrastructure a “D” in their 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.  They estimate that more than $2 Trillion dollars needs to be invested over the next 5 years to improve the condition of our nation’s infrastructure.  We make no progress toward meeting these needs if we allow states to decrease state funding for infrastructure at the same rate that we are increasing federal funding for infrastructure.

In recent testimony before the Transportation Committee Tom Donahue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce commented on his concerns regarding the stimulus package, “While the Chamber supports federal spending on an array of near-term infrastructure efforts, Congress and the Obama administration must ensure the accountability and transparency of these efforts.  If Congress and the administration do not take the necessary steps to ensure this money is spent where it is most needed, there is a real chance this effort could fail and billions of taxpayer dollars could be wasted.  Furthermore, if States divert their transportation dollars to other projects as a result of increased federal funding, this stimulus will be for naught.”

Mr. Donahue hits the nail right on the head, if we allow states to divert State dollars that were previously programmed for infrastructure projects we will make no progress in creating new jobs and no progress on meeting the enormous infrastructure needs of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I would also point out that transportation and infrastructure projects have a proven track record of creating jobs.  However, the infrastructure component of this measure is relatively small.  Transportation funding is roughly 8 percent of the total spending in the bill, yet it is responsible for creating 45 percent of the jobs HR 1 is expected to generate.  Logic, it seems to me, would dictate that if we are going to spend $1 trillion in taxpayer money we should invest more robustly in projects that we know create jobs and ensure that the funding is used as Congress intended.

Thank you and I yield back my time

Posted by: Press Secretary



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